Facts about Indian Paintbrush Flowers (Plant), "Scientific name for Indian Paintbrush is Castilleja minata". Indian Paintbrush is the Wyoming State Flower it was designated the state flower of Wyoming in 1917. It is also called the red Indian paintbrush, harsh paintbrush, common red paintbrush, giant red paintbrush and cliff paintbrush. Castilleja indivisa is called the entire-leaf Indian paintbrush, scarlet paintbrush, Texas paintbrush and just Indian paintbrush. Castilleja parviflora is the name of the Alpine Indian Paintbrush Flower, also called the small-flowered paintbrush. Castilleja hispida is more commonly called the Harsh Paintbrush, it is native to the Pacific Northwest at low elevations. It has scarlet and yellow bracts and upper leaves with one to two pairs of lobes. Castilleja chromosa is the Desert Indian Paintbrush Flower. It has a vivid red or orange color with graying green or purple herbage.
All of the Indian Paintbrush Flower species are members of the Scrophulariaceae or snapdragon family.
Origin of the Name Indian Paintbrush Flowers
The name Indian Paintbrush Flower supposedly receives its name from a Native American story where a young warrior tried to paint a sunset with his war paints. Because he couldn’t match the natural beauty of “God” or the “Great Spirit”, he asked for guidance from the higher power. The deity gave him paintbrushes with the vivid colors he sought. As he painted the sky, he left the spent paint brushes in the fields, which turned into bright flowers, the Indian Paintbrush Flower.
Physical Characteristics of Indian Paintbrush Flowers
The plants grow up to three feet (.91 meters) tall. The flowers are clover-like and up to one inch long (2.5 cm). The Indian Paintbrush Flowers range from red to orange to yellow to cream. The flowers grow in meadows, steam banks and forested areas. Indian warpaints regularly grow along the road side
The flowers of the Indian Paintbrush plant bloom from April to September, with later blooming in cooler climates. The showy colors are actually the brightly colored bracts. The Indian Paintbrush Plant flowers and bracts together create one to eight inch (20.3 cm) spikes.
The Indian Paintbrush Plant grows in medium dry to medium wet soils; they prefer slightly acidic soils with a pH less than 6.8. They need sun. The Indian Paintbrush Plant can grow in sandy soils, loamy soil, mixed clay loam and clay.
It can be either an annual plant or biennial plant. Castilleja indivisa is an annual, while Castilleja minata can be annual or biennial. Castilleja chromosa is typically perennial.
A hemiparasitic plant, it generally taps into grasses around it for nutrition. It prefers low growing glasses like sedge and Buffalo grass. Because its roots spread until it taps into neighboring grasses, transplanting one without its hosts usually kills it.
The Indian Paintbrush Flower species propagate via seeds. The seeds are very small, with up to four million seeds per pound. Seed capsules form in capsules at the base of each flower. Seeds can be harvested around May after the capsules are dry and brown.
The Indian Paintbrush Flower (Plant) group grows in USDA zones 3 through 8.
Place in the Ecosystem of Indian Paintbrush Flowers
Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush Plants often grow in the same fields and bloom at the same time. When the bluebonnets have a spectacular bloom, the Indian Paintbrush Plants have an average bloom.
Because the flowers don’t have perches for pollinators, they are pollinated by flying insects and hummingbirds. They attract butterflies. The Indian Paintbrush Flower hosts the larva of the buckeye butterfly.